Will Washington State play a role in deciding who the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees are? Looks like you’ll get two chances to voice your preferences after the big “Feb. 5th Super Tuesday” vote.
A bipartisan committee to set the date for the Washington State Presidential Primary picked Feb. 19, 2008 as the date to allow Washington voters to cast ballots for a Democratic or Republican candidate for President. The Republicans will allocate 50% of their delegates based on this vote. Democratic leaders, who don’t get it, will allocate none. Instead they will only choose delegates based on the selections coming out of the party caucuses on February 9, 2008.
While I am a Democrat, I do not support the caucus system to allocate delegates to candidates. I believe it is the antithesis of what the party should stand for. The party should stand for a selection process that provides maximum access to the voting public to participate.The caucus does not do that.
Just think about it. If you want to get maximum voter participation why would you set up a system that does not allow for absentee voting? You must physically be present at a caucus to have your vote count. Who does that eliminate? Lots of people – like those that have to work that day. This includes public servants like policemen and firemen and bus drivers. It includes the elderly or infirm that vote by absentee because it is difficult or impossible for them to physically attend.
Also excluded from the caucuses are college students registered to vote in Washington state but who are out of state as well as members of the armed services who are either on duty or are out of state.
Excluded are people who are essential caregivers of others, like hospital and health care workers, childcare workers or parents who are not able to leave alone or bring their children or their elderly parents.
People who are out of state on vacation or business can not vote in caucuses.
All in all it is not a very convenient system, fair or representative of the potential voting population of our state. And it does not reflect on the ability of the candidates to appeal to this larger voting population to turn out to vote in a general election in November that will be largely votes cast with mail in ballots.
Maybe one of these years the party elite will get it. In the meanwhile we will this next year have two chances to participate in expressing our preferences for Presidential candidates. It will be interesting to see the difference in vote totals and candidate preferences between the primary and caucus.
Again for the record, I was the campaign director for Initiative 99 which set up the Presidential Primary in Washington State law in 1989.
See related articles:
Seattle PI A Primary with Meaning 6/11/2007
Horsesass.org WSRP dicks play hardball 6/11/2007
WA Secretary of State Date set for 2008 Presidential Primary 6/11/2007
WashBlog Republicans were trying to make a point with primary vote 6/11/2007
Seattle PI State Primary is Moved to Feb.19 6/12/2007
Seattle Times Presidential Primary in State to be Feb 19 6/12/2007